The key piece of scientific misinformation that was crucial to the ethical misunderstanding of these techniques was the statement, endorsed by major scientific institutions, that mitochondria act as mere "batteries" for cells, and that mutations in mitochondrial genes have no effect on an individual's identity. The statement made an analogy with a laptop computer; its batteries do not affect the programs or data on the laptop. The purpose of this endlessly-repeated statement was to minimize the ethical significance of the changes to the germ line involved. (In these discussions, 'identity' was never clearly defined, but the general impression given was that it referred to visible physical differences, and perhaps personality.)
This piece of scientific nonsense is a classic example of the reductionist models of biology which dominate public debate and are clearly used by advocates of new technologies to manipulate the debate. Living organisms are simply not like computers: they are complex, whereas computers are merely complicated.